Why Executives Fail & How to Avoid It

The ?Peter Principle? concerning why managers fail derives from a broader theory that anything that works under progressively more demanding circumstances will eventually reach its breaking point and fail. The Spanish philosopher Jos? Ortega y Gasset, who was decidedly anti-establishment added, “All public employees should be demoted to their immediately lower level, as they have been promoted until turning incompetent”.

The Peter Principle is an observation, not a panacea for avoiding it. In his book The Peter Principle Laurence J. Peter observes, “In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence … in time every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties … Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.”

Let’s find out what the drivers are behind a phenomenon that may be costing the economy grievously, what the warning signs are and how to try to avoid getting into the mess in the first place.

Drivers Supporting the Peter Principle

As early as 2009 Eva Rykrsmith made a valuable contribution in her blog 10 Reasons for Executive Failure when she observed that ?derailed executives? often find themselves facing similar problems following promotion to the next level:

The Two Precursors

  • They fail to establish effective relationships with their new peer group. This could be because the new member, the existing group, or both, are unable to adapt to the new arrangement.
  • They fail to build, and lead their own team. This could again be because they or their subordinates are unable to adapt to the new situation. There may be people in the team who thought the promotion was theirs.

The Two Outcomes

  • They are unable to adapt to the transition. They find themselves isolated from support groups that would otherwise have sustained them in their new role. Stress may cause errors of judgement and ineffective collaboration.
  • They fail to meet business objectives,?but blame their mediocre performance on critical touch points in the organization. They are unable to face reality. Either they resign, or they face constructive dismissal.

The Warning Signs of Failure

Eva Rykrsmith suggests a number of indicators that an individual is not coping with their demanding new role. Early signs may include:

  • Lagging energy and enthusiasm as if something deflated their ego
  • No clear vision to give to subordinates, a hands-off management style
  • Poor decision-making due to isolation from their teams? ideas and knowledge
  • A state akin to depression and acceptance of own mediocre performance

How to Avoid a ?Peter? in Your Organization

  • Use succession planning to identify and nurture people to fill key leadership roles in the future. Allocate them challenging projects, put them in think tanks with senior employees, find mentors for them, and provide management training early on. When their own manager is away, appoint them in an acting role. Ask for feedback from all concerned. If this is not positive, perhaps you are looking at an exceptional specialist, and not a manager, after all.
  • Consider the future, and not the past when interviewing for a senior management position. Ask about their vision for their part of the organization. How would they go about achieving it? What would the roles be of their subordinates in this? Ask yourself one very simple question; do they look like an executive, or are you thinking of rewarding loyalty.
  • How to Avoid Becoming a ?Peter??Perhaps you are considering an offer of promotion, or applying for an executive job. Becoming a ?Peter? at a senior level is an uncomfortable experience. It has cost the careers of many senior executives dearly. We all have our level of competence where we enjoy performing well. It would be pity to let blind ambition rob us of this, without asking thoughtful questions first. Executives fail when they over-reach themselves, it is not a matter of bad luck.

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Spreadsheet Reporting – No Room in Your Company in an Age of Business Intelligence

It doesn’t take a genius to understand why spreadsheet reporting still pervades the enterprise despite the rise of a complex but highly effective IT solution known to big shot CIOs as Business Intelligence or BI.

If you’re still in the dark as to what BI is, don’t worry because we?ll enlighten you shortly.

Business decisions from disparate data sources

In the meantime, let’s talk about how you make business decisions. If you’re a top executive, then you make decisions based largely on reports submitted to you by your managers, department heads, and so on. They in turn obtain information from different sources, like the company ERP and CRM as well as other external sources (e.g. market surveys).

Now, before their reports ever reach your desk, a lot of data is extracted, shared, filtered, analysed, consolidated, and summarised so that they become actionable information. In all these activities, one software tool gets to take part in most of the action – the spreadsheet.

The problem with spreadsheet reporting

The problem with spreadsheets is that they have very poor built-in controls. Thus, they are susceptible to human errors and are vulnerable to fraud. What’s more, collecting data and manually consolidating them into spreadsheets can be very laborious and time consuming.

If you don’t get accurate, reliable information, your judgement will be fuzzy and your business decisions compromised. In addition, if you don’t receive the information you need on time, your business will constantly be at risk of breaching critical thresholds, which may even force it to spin out of control.

Business Intelligence – actionable information on time

This is mainly the reason why large companies implement Business Intelligence systems. BI systems are equipped with built-in features like reports, dashboards, and alerts.

Reports consolidate data and present them in a consistent format composed of intuitive text, graphs, and charts. The main purpose of having a consistent format is so that you will know what kind of information to expect and how the information is arranged. That way, you don’t waste time searching or making heads or tails out of the data in front of you.

Dashboards, on the other hand, present information through visual representations composed of graphs and gauges that are aimed at tracking your business metrics and goals. The main function of dashboards is to feed you with actionable information at a glance.

Finally, alerts keep you informed when certain conditions are met or critical thresholds are breached. Because their main purpose is to prompt you at the soonest possible time wherever you are, a typical alert can come in the form of an SMS message or an email.

As you can see, all three features are designed to get you making well-informed decisions as quickly as possible.

The problem with Business Intelligence and the alternative solution

The usual problem with full BI systems is that they can be very costly. Hence, if your organisation does end up implementing one, chances are, not everyone under you will be able to access it. As a result, some departments will be forced to go back to using spreadsheets.

If your company cannot afford a full BI system, then that probably means you don’t need one. What you need is a more affordable alternative. There are actually Software as a Service (SaaS) Business Intelligence solutions that may not be as comprehensive as a full BI system, but which may suffice for small and mid-sized businesses.

The disadvantages of spreadsheets are more damaging than you could have ever expected. Be free of it now.

 

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Field service and customer transparency

These days, a business is as good as it is transparent. Businesses are on unsteady ground because of the ever changing face of social media and a never-seen-before demand for information. With many sources of info on the internet, being credible is a sure way of building trust and loyalty among clients.

Here is an example. Customers will always believe what they see. If they see the work you put into furnishing their favourite products, you have a greater chance of getting their approval. They can invest more in what they see. The clothing merchandise Patagonia did this for their Footprint Chronicles line to show how their jackets are made and worked out fine for them.
Transparency is a must. Nowadays, customers never forget when they feel cheated. It is even harder to ensure transparency because many clients are also experts who scrutinise every detail. So, how can you keep transparency at the forefront?

Have transparent workforce management

Customers always look for new information and want to be in the know. There is nothing worse than not being able find a product manual or an easy way to set up appointments. By giving your clients a self-service option, they can pick the services they want. This leaves more time to get stuff done rather than answering unending service calls from dissatisfied customers.

For instance, you could have a field service customer self-service application that allows customers to look for personalised services, a machine manual, book appointments, or solve any other problem. Customers then get feedback anytime. This one-on-one approach can help customers feel like their questions are being answered. They?ll also not go through the hassle of long hold times to reach an available customer service representative.

Create transparency in field service repair projects

If field technicians have access to field service software, it allows technicians to be more open to customers. This gives them vital information like customer history and the ERP, so that they can explain changes that were made after past enquiries and what is being done in current products. Such information can be a guide for future updates or let the techs suggest products that suit a client’s taste. Unlike always staying offline and out of touch with your client, using field service software can allow entry of allowances and mileage, and also let the customer know the delivery time for their products.

Show customers what they’re paying for

With field service automation, billing will also be transparent. By using the available information about your field service solution, the station can send updated service reports to the customer like mileage, allowances, parts, hours worked, and photos of broken parts from the service. After the customer authenticates the transaction with a signature, the field service agent can generate and sent to the customer an invoice based on the agreed upon services. In case allowances and mileage can be forwarded to the customer, it will be shown on the invoice.
Because you use field service automation, it means that the customer will receive the invoice really fast ? in days rather than weeks ? and transparency will skyrocket because the whole experience of the service will leave a permanent mark in their mind.

Mistaking information for transparency

Being honest with your customer is the one thing. Wasting their time with unnecessary information is another. Here is an experience I had with a small retailer. Tracking information is only useful if it has recent updates and is accurate. If the company want to use real time tracking, let them do so under one condition ? updates should be regular and on time so as not to leave the customer frustrated because they also make plans based on the same information. Late updates shed light on the nature of the service command. Everyone hates cooked-up real time information.

A company must not always have a one to one exchange of information with customers to maintain transparency..

  • Use simple language that all customers can understand
  • Don’t use abbreviations that only employees know
  • Never ever air your failures and flaws to your customers

It is interesting that most of the tools we use to keep in touch with our clients and servicing their requests can also be used to gather data and iron out possible errors to improve products and services. This is a good chance for service providers to evaluate and make necessary amendments.

There are some areas that will need improving while others will not, nevertheless, the client needs to always be informed and know why things are the way they are. Not all details should be told, so filter what you share.

5 ways field service supports customer service

Sales organisations are always in motion, working to deliver the right product to their customers. To keep customers smiling all times is hard and only needs close communication and fulfilling promises that were made to them. This is where the field service delivery team comes in. Field service can either meet this demand or fall short plummeting satisfaction rates.
This is a task that relies on right people using various parts and information to get the job done. No matter what, the customer always expects to get exceptional services whether it be over the phone, chats, in the field, online messaging, over email, or social media.

These five field service points are suitable for any business model and guarantee excellent company-client relations.

Proactive service

A proactive service gives more to the customer. More attention is given to the customer so that the right actions, deliveries and repairs are done. By getting everything right the first time, the customer has less to do ensuring that they are satisfied with the services.
However, the field service technician is flooded with a myriad of unpredictable situations; overheating equipment, stalled machines, and insufficient precaution. But through field management software, they get more data about the customer and type of service or parts expected and they easily ride through any storm and prevent future damage.

Transparency

Nothing frustrates a customer more than a schedule that delays repairs. They easily ditch you for better services elsewhere. By offering the customer a service where they book appointments based on their own availability, we can easily sync this to the technicians and manager?s calendar. This not only saves time but also money from otherwise idle equipment.

On-site and off-site collaboration

Having seamless communication between field and office technicians is vital. Field technicians need to know more about parts, repairs, client maintenance history, and predict what should be changed in the long run. The faster they do this the better.

There should be a system that creates and automates communication between field and office technicians. Let each have the upper hand when providing parts, products or services to the customer.

Flexibility

Information is key to field service agents. They make the first impression since they make the initial contact with clients. Regardless of the resources, the field technician must always be armed with mobile tools they will need to access online resources and be ready for any emergency.

Actionable performance improvements

Customers demand excellent service a company could offer. But as the game constantly shifts, the service management technicians must also come up with plans to stay up to par with competition. All these stems from coming up with KPIs, measuring them and turning them into a workable plan for the future.

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